less and less to be said about my "mental position"'.
And it was no use pretending that I'd come to Slate-
ford to talk to him about contemporary novelist? or
even the incalculability of European Chancelleries.
Sooner or later he would ask me straight out what I
intended to do. My own reticence on the subject had
been caused by the fact that I hadn't known what I
did intend to do.
I was now trying to find out, while rubbing away,
with oil and sandpaper, at an obstinate patch of rust
on my niblick. . . .
At this point in my cogitations there was a com-
motion of thudding feet along the passage past my
door, and I heard a nurse saying, "Now, now, you
mustn't get upset like this." The sound of someone
sobbing like a child receded and became inaudible
after the shutting of a door. That sort of thing hap-
pened fairly often at the hydro. Men who had "done
their bit in France" crying like children. One took it
for granted, of course; but how much longer could I
stay there among so many haunted faces and "func-
tional nervous disorders"? Outwardly normal though
a lot of them were, it wasn't an environment which
stimulated one's "intellectual sobriety"!
I felt in my pocket for a little talisman which I
always carried about with me. It was a lump of fire-
opal clasped on a fine gold chain. Someone whose
friendship I valued highly had given it to me when
I went to France and I used to call it "my pocket
I had derived consolation from its marvellous colours
during the worst episodes of my war experiences.
In its small way it had done its best to mitigate much
squalor and despondency. My companions in dismal
dug-outs had held it in their hands and admired it.